March 19, 2010
MILWAUKEE (AP)– Gani Lawal scored 14 points, Derrick Favors came within a rebound of a double-double and the free throw-challenged Yellow Jackets scored their last 13 points at the line Friday night to hold off seventh-seeded Oklahoma State 64-59 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
It was a disappointing finish for James Anderson and the Cowboys (22-11), who never quite found their rhythm. Anderson, the nation’s third-leading scorer, was just 3 of 12 for 11 points while Obi Muonelo had 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. The Cowboys were one of the nation’s best 3-point shooting teams, averaging better than 35 percent. But they were just 6 of 22 from long range, including Anderson’s 0 for 6.
The 10th-seeded Yellow Jackets will play Ohio State at 2:20 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday. The Buckeyes may be the No. 2 seed in the Midwest, but Georgia Tech has to like its chances. Its victory Friday moved them to 5-0 in NCAA tournament games at the Bradley Center.
One thing’s for sure, the Yellow Jackets’ cell phone lockdown will continue for at least two more days.
The Yellow Jackets had lost five of seven heading into last weekend’s Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Desperate for something that could bring his team together, coach Paul Hewitt suggested his players give up their cell phones. Wary at first, the Yellow Jackets did it–and lo and behold. They won three straight before falling to Duke in the championship game, and happily handed over their cell phones again this week.
Georgia Tech (23-12) is best known for defense and its monster front line of Favors and Lawal. Free throws? Not so much. The Yellow Jackets came into Friday night’s game shooting less than 65 percent, a number only Shaquille O’Neal can love.
But they made them when it counted most.
Held without a field goal the last 8 minutes of the game, Georgia Tech got it done at the line with Favors, Iman Shumpert and Maurice Miller going 6 of 6 in the last two minutes. Georgia Tech finished 24 of 25 from the line.
Georgia Tech trailed 34-27 late in the first half–the largest deficit of the game. But Favors, the ACC freshman of the year and a projected lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft, and Lawal made consecutive baskets to spark a 12-5 run that spanned halftime and tied the game at 39.
After tying the game at 43 with a slam, Favors got the ball right back for Georgia Tech. He swatted away a shot by Anderson, and Zachery Peacock’s layup gave the Yellow Jackets a 45-43 lead, their first since 13:20 was left in the first half. They never trailed again.
After a free throw by Shumpert–he bricked the second for Georgia Tech’s only miss of the night at the line–Anderson stole the ball and dunked to tie the game at 54 with 3:32 left.
Miller, Favors and Shumpert all converted at the line to give Georgia Tech a 60-56 lead with 2:04 to play. But Keiton Page, who hadn’t scored since his steal and layup that gave Oklahoma State a 7-point lead late in the first half, came up big again. He drained a 3-pointer to cut it to 60-59 with 1:42 to play.
But the Yellow Jackets got the better of Oklahoma State in several scrums for the ball, and Anderson had a critical turnover with 21 seconds left.